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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 1073

Relating to
Surcharge for indigent legal services

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor (JDL) - chair: Clayton Hee, vice chair: Maile S.L. Shimabukuro

Monday, February 7, 2011, 9:00 a,m. Conference Room 211

Testifier: Jean Aoki, Legislative Committee, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view SB1073

Chair Hee, Vice Chair Shimabukuro, members of the Committee on Judiciary and Labor

The League of Women Voters opposes SB 1073 which tries to address the need for more funds to help the indigent get access to legal services that they can not presently afford.

We support wholeheartedly the objectives of the bill. We have always supported ways of increasing aid to those who cannot afford to access legal services.

Our objection to SB 1073 lies in the unfairness of levying surcharges on only a small segment of our residents. We cannot understand why only those who engage in certain civil actions in court should have to contribute to help the indigent acquire assistance for legal advice and services they cannot afford. This should be a shared obligation for all of us. We do not expect only parents who have children in public schools to pay for their children's education. We all share the costs because we know that the benefits of educating all children accrue to all of us. The same can be said for helping those who cannot afford legal services.

Not all of the people who have to resort to the courts for justice can really afford the high cost of challenging another party for redress of their grievances. As we add more costs to citizens who need to rely on our courts to iron out their civil differences, more and more of them will either not be able to afford the costs, or will be discouraged from seeking assistance which they feel costs too much.

Furthermore, this bill does not specify the fund where the increased fees are deposited, and the process by which the truly indigent are given access to legal aid.

This is one of the instances when taxpayer money should be used to help those in need.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify on S.B. 1073.


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